WEDNESDAY COLUMN by USSIJU MEDANER
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At times I wonder when we would begin to enjoy some respite as a nation and truly be able to concentrate on issues with direct and positive bearings on national growth and development. We have hardly had that opportunity. Over the last two years alone, we have been distracted severally by not so relevant or irrelevant events. Our responses to the few relevant events ultimately erode their relevancies: starting with the drama of propaganda in the build-up and the hate speeches that took away the beauty of the electioneering processes of the 2019 general elections and to the post-election continuation of the same negatives, the tribunal proceedings, the RUGA saga, the slapping senator story, the Shiites invasion and the unending propagation of divisions among us, politicisation of crime and criminality and even the list of the Nigerian Football squad has become an ethno-religious and political reference.
The pre-election time was a trying period for Nigeria. An activity that was designed to be a blessing to the country almost tore us apart. The opposition party, especially the PDP and its presidential flag bearer opted for the use of divisive mechanisms to gain relevance, foot soldiers were hired to unleash false propaganda and news that polarized the country the more and deepened the disunity among factions within the country. We woke up each day to a fresh dissemination of propaganda; the south turned against the north; the Christians against the Muslims. We turned national security challenges to campaign topics, fanning as we manipulatively exaggerated the menace of “herdsmen/farmers” clashes to disproof the sitting government and win sympathy. Negatively, this decision of Atiku and the PDP took us backward some decades and till now we are still more preoccupied with the burden of hatred and disunity, which ought not to be.
As soon as the elections were over, we thought we would be reverting to normalcy and allow the country move on but no, we were wrong; these elements are not willing to let go of their hatred for the country manifested in the open declaration of hatred for the President. The account of the ongoing presidential election tribunal is a minor issue when compared to the positions, reactions and outburst of certain individuals since the outcome of the 2019 general elections did not favour them. Statements credited to the likes of Ex-President Obasanjo, TY Danjuma and several others all associated with the loss of PDP at the presidential polls are not only tearing the nation apart but are naturally inducing laziness among the youth population. Imagine the content of the social media since the outburst of the fulanization and islamization propaganda from Obasanjo, Nigerian youths have become more preoccupied with the concept: analysing, projecting and devising ways of giving credibility to the non-existing concept. We now spend the better of each day to attack non existing enemies when the real enemies roam our neighbourhoods.
These issues we embrace and propagate are firstly elements of imagination of minds bent on destabilizing the nation. They have, to a large extent, succeeded in blindfolding us from seeing, taking a stand and responding to issues of genuine national relevance. How many of us are talking now about the almost N12bn taken from the wife of ex-president Jonathan or about the Diezani $40M jewelleries collected, or about the forfeiture of 68 billion and 46 properties allegedly belonging to Dr Ngozi Olojeme, the Deputy Chairman, Finance Committee of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation in the 2015 presidential election, or the many good works the administration of President Buhari is doing? These are the events we should relate and respond to. They are the issues that affect us as a people instead they are the issues we ignore.
When an elderly statesman like Obasanjo could not stomach his loss through his proxy at the poll and came out to utter destructive utterances, I had expected that Nigerians would have bombarded him with the questions like what did you do about what you are complaining of when you had the opportunity to. We should have asked him why he did not consider the concept and implement same in all of his eight years as president of Nigeria; we should have asked him if the herdsmen/farmers clashes were not equally rampant during his time and what he did about it. We should have asked him why we still sleep in darkness after his tenure if he had spent $16bn to transform the energy sector and why he did not fix the non-ending questions of the perennial problems of Nigeria when it was in his power to do.
Recently, Obasanjo wrote another letter to President Buhari where he outline his pessimism in the manner Buhari is handling the affairs of the nation especially as regards security. It is hard to believe the words of Obasanjo considering the stand he took during the pre-electioneering and electioneering periods of the 2019 general elections. He and his cohorts have been disgruntled by the policies implemented by the president and the withdrawal of some benefits they are illegally enjoying from the government.
The victory of Buhari at the poll dealt a big blow to them all especially Obasanjo who predicted the fall of Buhari at the polls. This is another reason they would not want to see the efforts the current administration is making towards ameliorating the challenges facing Nigeria at the moment, some of which began under the watch of former President Obasanjo.
More disheartening is for him to leverage on the murder of Fasoranti’s daughter, Funke Olakunrin and some other security challenges. Has Obasanjo forgotten so soon how many politically motivated high-profile assassinations occurred under his watch as captain of the Nigeria ship (including the unresolved murder of the sitting Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige on the almost endless list), ethnic and religious crises, armed robberies and kidnappings, military massacres in Zaki Biam (Benue) and Odi (Bayelsa), the number of plane crashes during his eight years rule over Nigeria, his drunkenness with power which, if not for the intervention of several elder statesmen like Gowon (who recounted his bit recently at an event held in the University of Abuja recently), would have been impeached but was saved to keep our democracy, the crash that left several high-ranking military officers dead, and many more?
Ann therrcis conservative report from BBC on the 7th October, 2004 as over 50,000 Nigerians (when there wasn’t BH and no hateful aspersions against a sitting president) were killed while Chief Olusegun Obasanjo presided over the Presidency of Nigeria.
This is only one of the avenues Obasanjo finds as an opportunity to vent his disapproval for the Buhari Administration after falling out with him. The other people who try to incite violence within the country such as Femi Fani Kayode are doing so to for reasons as: they are under investigation for corruption involving security funds to the tune of US$2.1 billion meant for the procurement of arms and welfare of the troops fighting insurgency; he would prefer the country to be in flames so that he rather be in prison for political reasons than for the corruption and crimes he has committed against the country.
Do you know that it is either Atiku or his surrogates, which includes Obasanjo and his friends are not aware of the Patience Jonathan and Diezani recent loot recoveries or they are at home with it? They overlook the revelation of acts of corruptions perpetuated under their roof and cry wolf over attempt by another to cleanse the nation of such atrocities.
Back to the point, the PDP and its presidential flag bearer at the poll have created an amusement via the tribunal. Going to the tribunal is legal and the appropriate thing to do but the elements of the Atiku and PDP petitions against the president, APC and INEC as well as the unfolding drama where each witness called by the party has turned the entire proceedings into one big house of comedy is a different thing. That the PDP lost at the presidential election is a universal fact just as much as the APC loss in the governorship election in Oyo, Adamawa, Ondo, Bauchi and Zamfara are already accepted realities.
Atiku came to the tribunal to discredit the presidential polls result as declared by INEC with a counter result he claimed is the authentic result and which he miraculously retrieved from “INEC server”. The implication of Atiku and PDP stand is that there existed an INEC server before the election and the commission fully utilized the said server for transmission of election result against the dictates of the nation’s electoral law. For Atiku’s claim to be validated, three grounds must be true and satisfied. There must have existed an INEC server, the commission must have officially used the server to transmit the results of 2019 elections and the electoral law prior to the 2019 elections must have allowed the use of the same server for result transmission. Funny enough, the acceptable process of the 2019 elections were not hidden from all the participating political parties and candidates. The fact is that all parties to the process were aware of the process and even signed document to the effect of acceptance of the processes and of course, electronic transmission of result was not one of them. This is why the INEC chairman while partially responding to the ghost server issue stated that all interested persons should go and read the statement all parties to the election signed before the election.
I don’t want to believe or insinuate that everyone in Atiku’s camp and the PDP are ignorant of the mentioned factors but I am baffled at the insistence of Atiku that his server’s result is authentic and correct. The position of the law is final: electronic transmission of results is not allowed by the current electoral law and as such it doesn’t matter whether a server existed and was used or not, the only thing recognized by our law is the use of appropriate forms to process election results and manual confirmation as done at the national election collation centre as witnessed by the world.
But since the amusement at the tribunal has begun, we must all gladly enjoy it while it lasts. We were treated to the defence of a man who claimed he is better equipped to rule the multi-ethnic, diverse Nigeria but could not organize coherent witnesses for his defence at the tribunal. We were treated to a witness who apparently did not know the month of the presidential election to another who openly alleged that INEC gave him a secret code for the server. Just imagine, a youth corps member, an adhoc staff in the position to hold the access to INEC server; funny and yet stupid. Days ago we all saw another witness taken aback by the content of statement he was deposed to. An ordinary current law school graduate would know the need to prepare his witness ahead of court even when the statement are doctored and lined with falsified facts, but Atiku’s counsels brought a witness to court to defend a statement he did not write or had never seen. Then their best was called. The most erudite and coherent, the supposed game changer, or who could be better among the lots than Buba Galadima? He most definitely enlightened us. Now we all know he was an estranged friend of the President and the number of master degrees his daughter has. He forgot that whatever the reason was why he chose to abandon a friend is inconsequential to the business of the tribunal but much thanks to him, we had a fun filled and storytelling day. Unfortunately it cannot be better as Atiku has made the mistake of presenting us with his best right in the middle of the game. Well we will continue to enjoy the comedy however it is served.
The confusion in the camp of Atiku and his party is worth demanding for all our enemies. They claimed APC had rigged the election in various locations to win the election as announced by INEC but luckily they accessed the authentic result. In their INEC server result they agreed that the President won in Katsina State but Atiku’s principal witness, a PDP state chairman from Katsina submitted at the tribunal that PDP won in the state. He tendered a result totally different from PDP server result. How possible is that? How did the PDP obtain two different results for the same state from one server? The same party arguing the same case with conflicting evidences.
Then we got to Yobe where Atiku told the world that the unsafe state could not ever have recorded the massive total vote of 900,000 as recorded by INEC but his ghost server result put the total votes from the same start at over one million votes. Someone rightly asked, is Atiku’s server not allergic to insecurity?
It is very clear that the cookies always crumble in every criminal conspiracy. We have not seen the end of the confusion. We should expect more from the camp of these electoral schemers.
Away from Atiku’s house of comedy at the tribunal, is the “RUGA” saga. So much has been said but the facts for Nigerians are this: the herders/farmer clash is a major security challenge for the country. We have been battling the menace since the era of the military rule without respite. The economic and environmental impacts of the menace are so grievous that no feasible solution would be too demanding only if it would bring an end to it.
It was on the basis of this that the administration of Jonathan set up the Suswan led committee that prescribed the establishment of cattle ranches across the country to take the cows off the streets and farmlands. Accepted by all, the administration released a sum of 100 billion to kick start the project but unfortunately the money was corruptly embezzled and the project abandoned till the party lost out in 2015. The clashes had continued and the APC led government under pressure to project a lasting solution had several committees set up until the vice president Osinbajo-led committee submitted that the Suswan committee’s submission remains the best solution and urge the president to implement it as soon as possible. We must also remember that in the days prior to the election and in one of the various election debates attended by the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, he was asked what he would do to end the herders/farmers conflict and his answer was simple and straight forward; he would establish grazing ranches across the country. When Jonathan proposed the establishment of cattle ranches, it was a wonderful and welcome idea: Fulanis are not scheming to take over Nigeria in fact Jonathan was even endorsed by some factions of the Fulani Associations. When Atiku stated the same as his solution to the problem, he was hailed for having solution to all our insecurity issues but when Buhari started the implementation, hell was let loose. It is an islamization agenda; it is a fulanization agenda; the president is taken Nigerians’ land for his kinsmen.
We magnify the herders /farmers conflict beyond a healthy and acceptable limit. We forget that the crisis is not unique to Nigeria. Almost every African nation faces the same crisis. To begin the process of solving the crisis, the government of Nana Akofo-Addo in Ghana has started the construction of cattle ranch in Afram Plains to begin the process of taking cows off the streets. The President had made the promise to handle the crisis in his pre-election promises and constructing the ranches is what he considered the best route to solving the problem.
The developed nations permanently solved the problem which was once an issue to them too by adopting the ranching system of agriculture. Today, we have ranches scattered all over America. The ownership of the ranches is a secondary issue. If America were to be in our shoes today, their government would, without delay, invest in ranches. My worry at this moment is what happens in the event of total rejection of RUGA? Peace or chaos? Please let’s think twice before we allow politicians and haters of the nation use us all to destroy Nigeria.
Finally, we must all learn to move away from hatred. We will gain nothing from it. President Buhari is not the man PDP and the enemies of Nigeria are painting him to be, he is their nemesis. What we all must remember as we prepare to take the decision of where to direct our anger is, there was a time when Nigeria was enormously rich, when money was flowing like water into the public treasury but we had no road, we slept in darkness, our education system was decayed, our hospitals were always on closure due to incessant strike actions, the youths were roaming the streets unemployed and searching for non-existing jobs. There was a time when payment of workers’ salaries was considered unimportant and workers were owed over 14 months in most states of the federation. There was a time when stealing of public fund was not corruption; when the wife of a president became a multi-billionaire overnight from official gifts, a time when a minister of petroleum became so corruptly rich to afford the accumulation of $40 million worth of jewelleries including a single diamond pen worth 22 million, not to mention the bulk of her hidden stolen funds and juicy properties all over the world.
We must objectively analyse what the administration of President Buhari is creating for the country. We must take account of the extent of economic recovery we have enjoyed since the time of recession few years back. We must objectively consider the positives of the war against corruption and for once, put sentiments apart, and give credit to the audacity exhibited by the president in fighting corruption.
We may not have gotten to the point we intend to now but we are closer than we were five years ago and surely we will get there.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!